Author Topic: Ruling allows wilderness trails to stay open  (Read 7652 times)


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Ruling allows wilderness trails to stay open
« on: January 16, 2008, 09:05:27 am »
Ruling allows wilderness trails to stay open
"There are implications not only in California, but also nationwide"
Posted: January 16, 2008
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2008

     A federal government decision that will allow back-country trails for Jeeps and other off-highway vehicles to remain open in a national forest in northern California is being seen as a precedent that could have implications for other such disputes now developing, a trail advocate says. The recent decision came from Smith River National Recreation Area Road Management and Route Designation Project on the Six Rivers National Forest, according to Don Amador, the western representative for the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
     The organization is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and "encourages individual environmental stewardship." It represents more than 10,000 individual members and another 1,200 groups that act on behalf of a total of 600,000 people nationwide. The BRC had joined with Del Norte County in an appeal of the decision that would have closed more than 14 miles of historic off-highway vehicle motorized trails in the Six Rivers National Forest. The appeal deciding officer now has reversed the proposed closure, Amador said.
     "This decision clearly supports BRC's continuing legal viewpoint that the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule allows for motorized trails to be designated in roadless areas," he said. "As the route designation process continues on other forests it will be important for local user groups to highlight important OHV routes that already exist in roadless areas so they may be included as meaningful options in the travel management plan."
     The forest opinion earlier had proposed a ban on the use of those motorized vehicle trails in the Six Rivers Forest.
"Currently, the 19 national forests in California are in various stages of route designation as required by the nationwide Forest Service Travel Management Rule," the organization said. "The NRA's process was one of the first projects completed where a final decision notice had been issued." Amador said the vehicle trails "should not be arbitrarily and summarily excluded."
     "Some of the most highly valued and scenic motorized trails in our national forests exist in roadless areas," he said.
"We just feel there needs to be some balance in the decision-making process between motorized and non-motorized access," Amador told WND. "We felt the Six Rivers decision [was] restrictive, and that's why we're glad to see the decision remanded and a balance struck.
     "If the decisions are too closure-oriented, we feel the public right to access federal lands will be impacted. It's not necessary and it's something we're certainly going to keep working on," he said.
"We all have a place in the environment, but having reasonable access to these trails in remote places certainly is legitimate," he said.
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